Eddies in the Red Sea: A statistical and dynamical study

Peng Zhan, Aneesh C. Subramanian, Fengchao Yao, Ibrahim Hoteit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Sea level anomaly (SLA) data spanning 1992–2012 were analyzed to study the statistical properties of eddies in the Red Sea. An algorithm that identifies winding angles was employed to detect 4998 eddies propagating along 938 unique eddy tracks. Statistics suggest that eddies are generated across the entire Red Sea but that they are prevalent in certain regions. A high number of eddies is found in the central basin between 18°N and 24°N. More than 87% of the detected eddies have a radius ranging from 50 to 135 km. Both the intensity and relative vorticity scale of these eddies decrease as the eddy radii increase. The averaged eddy lifespan is approximately 6 weeks. AEs and cyclonic eddies (CEs) have different deformation features, and those with stronger intensities are less deformed and more circular. Analysis of long-lived eddies suggests that they are likely to appear in the central basin with AEs tending to move northward. In addition, their eddy kinetic energy (EKE) increases gradually throughout their lifespans. The annual cycles of CEs and AEs differ, although both exhibit significant seasonal cycles of intensity with the winter and summer peaks appearing in February and August, respectively. The seasonal cycle of EKE is negatively correlated with stratification but positively correlated with vertical shear of horizontal velocity and eddy growth rate, suggesting that the generation of baroclinic instability is responsible for the activities of eddies in the Red Sea.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3909-3925
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 20 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Eddies in the Red Sea: A statistical and dynamical study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this